Where do you go for boating…well this obviously depends on the area you live in and how far you are wiling to travel for some good water!
Here in KZN there are a number of fantastic dams to take advantage of and even a few a little bit further away. I have had the privilege of visiting a number of these dams and found that each brought with it it’s own set of experiences.
Albert Falls – Known for hail and thunderstorms. The turbulent weather change has left a permanent image of us huddling in our car with the water tubes covering the car and mats over the boat for protection as the hail plummeted down. Being ankle biters we were in the car safe and warm while watching our parents scrambling and dodge the egg size hail drops. Another time we had a down pour of rain while camping there one weekend. The kids were in a separate tent to the folks and between us a river of water swooshed past. The fear, laughter and shouts from tent to tent will never be forgotten. Needless to say the skiing was not to bad. Always a race to the shore as the rain could be seen coming across the dam. It had always been a great place that my folks enjoyed in their youth. It was just the distance that prevented us from going there often.
Midmar dam – one that I do believe I will be visiting more frequently. Not only for the Midmar mile, but great sailing facilities, canoeing activities, water skiing space and jet-skiing sections. What more could one ask for in one place. Camping, chalets, picnic sites and ablution facilities, cycle routes, little meanders, great local coffee shops and restaurants with the Umgeni reserve close by for game viewing and nature trails. It is well situated and perfect for that long weekend getaway. The water is clean on most occasions and offers you the calm surrounds with glorious weather. But Howick like most bergie areas also tends to be very unpredictable and the wind howls through every now and then bringing a change to the normal sunny day.
Goedertrouw dam – ImPiva – Self-catering floating chalets on a large dam. You park on 1 side of the dam – pack your things on your boat or the skiff and you zoom/motor across to the other side for reception and your accommodation. Each floating chalet looks like a thatch house hidden away in a little alcove in the dam. They were very simply designed with all necessities on board: shower, toilet, kitchen, lounge, sleeping area with mosquito nets. We were satisfied and so grateful to have the boat there as the little skiffy motored along slower than you could swim. We spent 3 nights there only saw another family once. The boat gave us so much freedom to explore the dam in minutes instead of hours on the skiff. We had the dam to ourselves , which was great for skiing just the getting of petrol was a bit of a problem. We had such a ball and will never forget this experience. We had the wildlife reserve on the 1 side of the hill and every now and then a long neck would appear and a couple of giraffes would be spotted. We went in summer and thoroughly enjoyed the heat. We fished for barbell (strange looking things) which stayed close to the house boat and caught 2 with a bit of bacon. We did not go through to reception at all and therefore unable to tell of the land facilities.~ Sadly I have recently found out that this is not available any more.
Hazelmere – this is our local hotspot which we visit regularly – summer, winter, rain and sunshine! This dam will always hold many great memories from learning to shalom ski, to Skottle breakfasts, office parties, power boat racing, floating back to shore on a dead jet ski battery, enjoying the wake-snaking, knee boarding behind the jet ski – yes there are many. We have seen this dam in times off overflowing and times of drought. My father recalled how back in the day the shalom practice course was in front of the boat house and the best water ran down the little estuary where he would barefoot. I have seen canoeists, fishermen and family picnics held at this dam, been there when its overcrowded and when we were the only souls on the dam. I will also love this place and look forward to spending many more years enjoying this place.
Wagon’s drift dam – Well known for its beautiful flower spray with rainbows’ that reflecting off the sunlight. This is a really great place for a long weekend due to the distance and I have had the pleasure of being there during the winter . Hence the fact that this experience will live with me forever and I am reminded of this 1 event every time we drive past. The weather had started off sunny but as with winter there is an icy edge to the wind. Which is survivable provided the sun stays out. We had been skiing for most of the day whet the weather turned cold and of course we were out on the water. With the new fancy 250HP Fuel Injected motor we decided to challenge the horse power to pull out 3 skiers – we could not get out, the was no hope and had depleted all our reserves trying to hang on while playing submarines with the boat. We had no wetsuits, no rash vest – we were not woussies! Oh did I pay the price – I was so cold my toes turned white, I shivered as we sat at the back of the boat and headed for shore – no towel. I thought my toes would be gone forever, there was no sign of life flowing any where near that area. Everything felt numb and tingly. I would still go back and make new warmer memories in the future.
Inanda dam – has it’s good and bad days. The facilities have really been improved to accommodate basic needs, allowing you to enjoy the rough terrain and camping atmosphere. Just the many different experiences people have had either put you off or encourage you to go. I have been there a few times from the beginning to recently for a boat review and was impressed with what I saw. The water was clean no green fungi floating around and the mist was just lifting off the fresh winter morning. We to road up and down the right hand side of the dam where the dam wall is and the water was like glass. The sun giving a warmth to the crisp morning air. It was exciting to be there with no one else. I wanted to shout out “One day this will all be mine! Wa ha ha!” I have been here with our young adults group and there was plenty of dam to go around. I have also enjoyed camping there over a weekend with many other people in little groups all around. This dam lends itself to cater for large crowds which creates that community atmosphere this place thrives on. Kids make friend with neighbours and entertain themselves while enabling the adults a well needed time out. I enjoy the many people that come, the different families, meals and smells. It creates great memories. It is a pity that this is quite a way for anyone not living in Hillcrest (even then it takes 15-20min to get to the dam) – I would enjoy coming here in large groups and spending a weekend or you would need to leave at dawns crack and be out by the slice of closing time to make the most of the distance you travelled there.
Vaal dam – ah yes the straight and narrow – in every sense of the word. At times overcrowded with streams of boats and jet skis tearing up the water in a display of water antics. The long stretch is great for cruising, sundowners, tube rides and the occasions trip out for lunch to moor at the local boat house / restaurant. I have had mixed experiences there people clashing over direction, ownership of the water, I’m faster than you and the fear being ridden over from someone skiing right on your wake – what is it with Gauteng drivers?! (just kidding couldn’t help by throw that in there). We have always had great weather there and enjoyed delicious braai’s and the sun sets. Most of my time at the Vaal dam was spent when I was little. I loved the dam lilies which would open up in a scent of summer bright white & yellow. We would have to get up at 4:30 summer and winter to out on the road to collect my uncle, the boat and then head off to the dam. This was the only time I have ever seen a dry suit being used – and it’s tight like a tigerrr! We had our Raven 180 closed nose with a hollow bow. My brother and I would cocoon up in our towels and snuggle under there listening to the water hitting the hull and the engine revving underneath. This is a very special time, I loved that boat. It was comfortable, sleek, just a beautiful boat. The dam was mainly flat and clean then and with so many fantastic skiing opportunities of bear footing, discus skiing with my dad and watching the “young ballies” then show off their shalom spray. This where my enjoyment and love for boating was founded and something I will definitely pas onto my kids should my finances be willing in the future.
The Pont Holiday Resort- Wild Coast – a river, very busy and over crowded. I found that all people did was zoom up and down the entire time we were there – maybe a better out of season a better time to visit?!
The other side of the Umtavuna river I visited recently was from the wild coast side. We went on the morning cruise up river which was great, chips and ice-cream at 9:30 in the morning with a chilly wind and a warm sun. It was a nice relaxing cruise and we got to see the different holiday facilities from the river side. There were speed boats parked onshore and a wakeboard ramp, some people tubing were tubing and fishing but I was unsure of getting into the water with the hundreds of dead green jellyfish we saw floating in the water. Maybe just a really good touring area?
Durban Sea – challenging, unpredictable, exhilarating and nerve racking – these are some of the words that come to mind when having to build up the courage to breakthrough the white horses and launch out the open water. I have had the joy of being part of a few Jet Ski runs some from Vetches to the breakers, others from Port Shepstone to Umkomass and then onto Blue Lagoon. I will never forget the size of the swell as we made our approach to beach at Umkomass. It seemed as though moving hills rolled beneath us towards the shore. I had a novice driving me, and so a little crack of fear broke through and I thought this could be the end – I said many prayers on the way in, peeking over the driver’s shoulder as we gingerly made our way to the beach. “eh hem! You must keep up with the wave in front…go a little faster…okay GO!, Make for the shore!” We came in well I was really impressed, even though my eyes gave away the little bit of fear that had gripped my being. All the mother could do was laugh, of course she was not the one who was pillion with a novice driving. The guys swopped over with us and we headed back along the coastal road while they pummeled through the surf to Breakers. This was a real adventure, not one I would want to experience too often.
Let me know your thoughts! Where have you been? What area do you consider to be top on your boating list?